My desk is covered with clipped newspaper articles and post-it notes scribbled with thoughts and ideas for this blog. As a devotee of current events, these first days of December have proven to be an unusually rich period for news and events that would normally send me dashing to my laptop. President Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize just days after escalating the war in Afghanistan. Uganda considers the death penalty for gay people. Michele Bachmann adds her voice to others supporting an amendment to Minnesota's constitution that would put a cap on future state spending. Sarah Palin brings her "Going Rogue" book tour to the Mall of America. Any one of these items would normally capture my imagination, or indignation, for at least 500 words, but not lately.

Lately, I read daily papers, but I don't react to provocative stories the way I usually do. I find myself listening to music rather than news programming while driving to and from work. Perhaps, I thought, I was coming down with a cold or the flu. Or maybe I was suffering from seasonal affective disorder or just a general low-grade malaise. But I didn't feel sick or lethargic. It was just that my sense of outrage seemed to be frozen by the cold or buried under the recent snow.

Then, while station surfing in my car, I landed on one of those radio stations that seems to play Christmas carols from Labor Day to President's Day. Josh Groban's was singing the first lyrics of "O, Holy Night." Uncharacteristically of me, since I generally avoid holiday music and usually can't stomach Mr. Groban's unmistakable voice, I stopped skipping through the stations and listened to the entire song. It was as if a light bulb had gone off, or more appropriately given the time of year, a menorah or advent candle had been lit. It suddenly became apparent to me that it was the season that had captured my spirit, not some sickness that had infected my body.

With the dimming of each day, as we move closer to the winter solstice, I find myself slowing down and becoming more reflective. I spend as much time reading Christmas cards and letters as I do articles about the health care debate. I go to holiday parties and talk to friends about their lives, not about politics. I'm sleeping more and eating more and not worrying about the additional shuteye and calories. I'm lighting candles and building fires in the fireplace. I'm going to the Hollidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis – not once, but twice.

Soon enough, something will jar me out of this seasonal calm, but until that happens, the headlines and sound bites can wait. There is eggnog to drink, lefse to eat, friends and family to see, and holiday lights to enjoy. And, I need to get to the Electric Fetus to buy Josh Groban's Christmas CD before it's sold out.

 

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